Creating a culture of food safety on your farm

The landscape of fresh produce is continually evolving and growers must evolve with it. Having a food safety culture can help inform and guide this evolution.

Food safety mistakes happen to the best of produce growers and food handlers. In most cases, they do not cost anyone their lives and can be viewed more as opportunities for betterment. Michigan State University Extension says the key to this change of mindset is maintaining something called a food safety culture.

A food safety culture begins with viewing the produce that is handled in the operation as if it were food. It is very easy when handling bulk volumes of fruits or vegetables to think of it as a commodity, like corn or soybeans. By thinking of the produce as food, a culture of food safety begins.

Every interaction with fresh produce, from the time it is harvested to the time it is sold, impacts quality and safety. Understanding and evaluating the flow of food in this context is really the next step in developing a culture of food safety. Whether it is recognizing that the holding temperature of the cooler is important, or understanding that healthy workers harvest and pack safe food, these realizations will begin to inform management decisions that drive change on the farm.

As change takes hold, continuous improvement becomes the hallmark of a healthy food safety culture fully enacted upon a farm. If you would like more information on implementing good food safety practices on your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Workgroup at 517-788-4292 or

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